The Death of a Daughter Leads Down to a Psychological Path of EVIL! “The Haunting of Julia” reviewed! (Imprint / Blu-ray)

Limited Edition of “The Haunting of Julia” Available at!

This morning was like any other as the Julia rustles up breakfast for her all-business husband Magnus and their lively vivacious daughter Kate, but when Kate violent chokes on a piece of apple and Julie performs a bloody, untried tracheotomy in a state of panic in order to save her daughter’s life, their lives are forever changed as Katie dies in Julia’s arms. For weeks, Julia’s melancholic depression commits her to hospital care. When she’s ready for release per the Doctor’s recommendation, Julia avoids returning to Magnus as their relationship was never a mutually loving one but rather a normal route connected by the presence of their daughter Kate. In order to restart her life, Julia separates from a controlling Magnus and purchases a magnificent London house only to then be plagued by ghostly occurrences she suspects is the work of her late daughter. What Julia comes to find out is the troubling history of her newfound home.

Mia Farrow solidified herself as a genre actress by starring in the archetype for films revolving around the prince of darkness, Satan, in 1968 with “Rosemary’s Baby.”  Unlikely seeing herself as a prominent woman of a notable rite horror, Farrow quickly understood her value in the genre as a complex female lead in the unsettling and gothic protuberance atmosphere style.  Nearly a decade later, Farrow stars in the Richard Loncraine directed “The Haunting of Julia,” similar only to the menacing supernatural child component but digs deeper in manipulative complacency, psychological guilt, and of that distorted reality created by the stout motherhood connection.  The “Slade of Flame” director set his sights off of Rock’N’Roll inspired dramas around the ugliness of the music industry and onto the filmic adaptation of the Peter Straub novel “Julia,” penned by the Dave Humphries and “Xtro” trilogy director Harry Bromley Davenport.  The joint United Kingdom and Canadian production, titled originally as “Full Circle” in the UK, is produced by Peter Fetterman (“The Exorcism of Hugh”), under Fetterman Productions, and Alfred Pariser (“Shivers”) of the Canadian Film Development Corporation. 

Mia Farrow’s distinct reactions and acting style very much engulfs the majority of horror experienced in “The Haunting of Julia,” as well as exhibited in “Rosemary’s Baby.”  The glassy eyed, long stares, the frightened, coiled emotions that swirl seemingly out of control, and the switch-gear ability to be strong and compliant in tense-riddled situations that just only involve herself in the scene.  While “Rosemary’s Baby’ and “The Haunting of Julia” may exact the same gothic aperture for child-themed horror and both are adapted literary works, “The Haunting of Julia” unfolds not in the anticipating of child birth but rather postmortem with the aftermath affliction of a child’s sudden and terrible demise that occurred in the frantic mother’s misguided embrace to take a knife right to her child’s jugular in hopes of dislodging an air denying obstruction.  This opening scene shocks us right into a grim framework that simultaneously divides trust and empathy for Julia as circumstances unveil what we might suspect all along, that Julia’s mental health suffered immensely.  What pushes Julia into undue stress is her controlling, dispassionate husband Magnus. Played by “Black Christmas’s” Keir Dullea.  Dullea pulls off the unsympathetic impassive father who just lost a child and can’t see the underlying psychological unrest his wife suffers.  In short, Magnus attempts to gatekeep Julia’s damaged psyche by trying to strong arm her back into normalcy, even going as far as manipulating Julia and his own sister Lily (Jill Bennett, “The Skull”) into slipping his foot into the door with a wife who fled from his grasp as soon as released from the hospital for essentially shutting down after their daughter’s death.  That toxic pressure is coupled with the seemingly unnatural incidences in her new home that clash her old life, chained to an unconsciously broken family, with her new life that seeks to decompress from a pair of diverse traumas.  “The Haunting of Julia” rounds out the cast with Tom Conti (“Blind Revenge”), Mary Morris (“Prison Without Bars”), Anna Wing (“Xtro”), Pauline Jameson (“Night Watch”), Peter Sallis (“Frankenstein:  The True Story”), Susan Porrett (“Plunkett & Macleane), Edward Hardwicke (“Venom”), and Sophie Ward (“Book of Blood”).

More or less forgotten by U.S. audiences due to no fault of the film’s own acclamatory measure or the audiences willing participation, the international produced “The Haunting of Julia” wasn’t publicized in the U.S. despite the two American leads – Mia Farrow and Keir Dullea.  Richard Loncraine’s film has incredible merit to the idea of a mother’s loss within the construct of gothic horror, which, in another aspect of unfathomable irony, resembled more closely to the American gothic style of the supernatural sequestered dark house.  Yet, this house is in London, wedged in like row homes, but as mentioned numerous times in the film, the house has distinction and grandeur that overlooks the buried ghostly history of the previous owners.  Julia absorbs the stories, filters through them, and comes to believe her own daughter is either trying to reach out to her or is hellbent on revenge for the amateur hour tracheotomy.  Loncraine does the phenomenal job of shocking our core with the early choking death scene of Julia’s daughter but once that dust settles, the pacing becomes more rhythmic to the point of building, slowly, Julia’s encounters with unknown forces that, at first, are just seemingly bizarre happenstances of left on bedroom plug-in radiators and playground visions of a girl that resembles her daughter cutting up another kid’s pet turtle.  These events play into their evident conspicuousness to push audiences deep into Julia’s mysterious milieu, officially sealing something isn’t right with the clairvoyant Ms. Flood’s scarred-screaming vision of a bloody child.  Julie become engrossed into learning the truth, eager to determine if that child is her late daughter and is fed tidbits of the house’s history that not only continues her own investigation but other research into other house tragedies that fork-split her presumptions.  As all this noise tornadoes around Julia, the stories, the occurrences, the deaths, viewers will never deduce to a reason closer to home, to Julia herself, until possibly too late at the end with a grisly open-ended finale that what Julia has been experience may have been done at her own forlorn hand. 

Atmospherically sound, undoubtedly creepy, and spearheaded by strong performances, “The Haunting of Julia” is the unspoken heroine of late 1970s supernatural horror – until now.  Imprint and Via Vision of Australia release a limited edition, high definition 1080p, 2-disc Blu-ray set with an AVC encoded BD50 of a new 4K scan transfer of the original 35mm negative. Presented in an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1, the 4K scan is super sharp with virtually no compression issues on the formatted storage. Blacks, and negative spaces in general, are rich and void, despite Peter Hannan’s low-contrast and hazy surreal veneer that definitely plays into a psychotronic dreaminess. The resolution goes unaltered, and the natural grain maintains the original theatrical presentation for a revered 4k transfer. The English LPCM 2.0 mono track mix audibly delineates a viable one input split to make the dialogue and all other tracks comprehendible. Despite some slight here and there hissing, dialogue is amped up nicely for better resolved results that still remains mingled with the ambience in an all for one, one for all audio format. “Space Trucker’s” Colin Towns’s insidious and distinctly composed soundtrack reaches into the recesses of soul and strikes at the very nerve of fear with an unsettling score, perfectly suited for a mother drowning in the pitfalls of a supernatural sanctum. Optional English Hard-of-Hearing subtitles are available. The first disc special features include two audio commentaries – one with director Richard Loncraine and Simon Fitzjohn and the second, brand new, commentary with authors Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons, new interviews with composer Colin Towns Breaking the Circle, cinematographer Peter Hannan Framing the Circle, and Hugh Harlow Joining the Circle, a new video essay by film historian Kat Ellinger Motherhood & Madness: Mia Farrow and the Female Gothic, the original trailer, and an option to play the film with either “The Haunting of Julia” or “Full Circle” opening title. The second disc is a compact disc of Colin Town’s 11-track score featuring 20 minutes of previously unheard music out of 60:52 of music. The limited-edition set comes with a neat lenticular cover on front of the hard box of what we assume is Julia’s ghost glaring at you from all angles as her eyes follow you. Inside is a clear Blu-ray snapper that’s a little thicker than your traditional snapper and comes with a built-in secondary disc holder. The cover art is simply Mia Farrow cowering outside the bathroom door but the reversible cover displays an original “Full Circle” poster as the front image. The disc arts are illustrative and compositions with the feature presentation disc the same as hard box lenticular without it being lenticular and CD pressed with Mia Farrow’s face in the background and a child’s cymbal banging toy in the foreground. Also in the hard box is a 44-page booklet feature an historical background essay by critic/writer Sean Hogan that has black and white and color photos and various poster art. The film, which comes in as Imprint catalogue # 218, runs at 97 minutes, is unrated, and, is assumed, for region A playback as it’s an Australian release – there is no indication on the package. “The Haunting of Julia” is Mia Farrow’s shining, yet lost effort post Roman Polanksi and is a remarkable look at subtle disconnection from extreme guilt when in every corner, every sign, is thought to be about your lost child.

Limited Edition of “The Haunting of Julia” Available at!

EVIL Terrorizes the Parisian Women of the Night! “A Woman Kills” reviewed! (Radiance / Blu-ray)

“A Woman Kills” Now Available on Blu-ray! Click the Cover Art to Purcahse!

The execution of Hélène Picard, a convicted murderer of prostitutes in Paris, France circa 1960s, is carried forth and thought to have snuffed out a string of brutal killings.  Louis Guilbeau carried out the execution orders that gave Pairs a moment of relief and a sense of safety for the working girls on the streets, but when the similar murders spark public fear and the newspapers compare the scenes as Hélène Picard handywork, Paris is once again thrown turmoil with a serial killer.  Is Hélène Picard really dead?  Is it a copycat?  Or did they not catch the real killer?  Guilbeau, unphased by the recent atrocities, begins an affair with the lead investigator into the murders and continues to always be one step behind the suspected female culprit with no remorse, no shame, and no limits to her brutality against prostitutes.

Thought to be lost in obscurity for forever, the reels for French director Jean-Denis Bonan’s “La femme bourreau,” aka “A Woman Kills” was discovered in 2010.  The master of the unfinished film became destined to be born again with a new home video release as Bonan’s debut directorial embodied parallelisms of the French sociopolitical unrest and protests, known as the Paris economic-stopping May 68 event, during the late 1960s, and hitched a ride on the narrative wave of post-“Psycho” gender identity complexes within the confines of a La Nouvelle Vogue, or the French New Wave movement.  Though “A Woman Kills” was the inaugural film of the young director’s career, Bonan simultaneously also became one of the few to document in real time the May 68 upheaving protests as he and the crew went back-and-forth filming a fiction story and nonfictional protests.  The film incorporates a semi pseudo-doc that treats the script like a mixture between a crime thriller and the experimental qualities of its playful, singsong soundtrack and harsh editing.  The 1968 film is a production of Luna Park Films and is self-produced by Jean-Denis Bonan.

For those casted in film, “A Woman Kills” was there first auteur film if not their first feature film role all together. What could be considered as a blend between New French Wave and Neorealism, Bonan rarely has his cast express their own vocal cords. Lots of action and expressiveness devour the attention but that doesn’t go on to say Bonon completely nixed dialogue altogether with his montage of interviewees, a jest-and-jovial troubadour descriptive songs of the scenes, the narrator’s file readings of victims, the newsboys hawking of murder headlines, all become the dialogue in lieu of the real McCoy. The cast does have their voices heard in rare moments, often in scenes of great exposures and difficult in detail. A case in point is Claude Merlin as the prison executive Louis Guilbeau. Merlin, who went on to be involved in another May 68’s connected film from 2001, “Toutes les nuits” or “Every Night,” is eager and excited in character when going into the medical details of the various way his profession executes prisoners or falls into a somber regarding his mother’s abusive behavior to him when he was just a boy. Guilbeau’s dialogued moments are precise and point plots toward his character and toward the end game. The affair Builbeau has with police investigator Solange Lebas, from Jean Rollin’s “Rape of the Vampire” and Bruno Gantillo’s “Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay’s” Solange Pradel, provides roughly the equal amount of dialogue time in a role that’s typically casted for men, a lead investigator on a high-profile murder case. Gender reversal and identity themes are accentuated by Merlin and Pradel’s tenues of the characters. Myriam Mézières (“Spermula”), Jackie Raynal, Catherine Deville (“Rape of the Vampire”), and Velly Beguard (“Endless Night”) work out the remaining cast.

I wouldn’t necessarily call “A Woman Kills” avant garde.  In fact, I firmly believe the propagating audio and video experiments and the themes are far from it.  Bonan borrows a little here and there from different techniques and cinematic trends to fashion a stake in the French New Wave movement.  Splashes of eroticism, which are greatly descriptive visually and narratively, don’t warrant “A Woman Kills” to be a full-fledged erotica film.  The same can be said about the crime or investigator angle that too just seems to be woven sporadically through this melee of classification. Pseudo-documentary montages and script narrator push the labeling in another direction as well. “A Woman Kills” doesn’t exactly fit into a mold, wears patchwork pastiche, but also has flare ups of Bonan’s call to add chaos into the traditional scheme of filmmaking. More so linear than not, the narrative transitions between scenes without a care for being comprehensible early on. Heavily relying on the narrator to give exposition on the background of the notorious prostitute murderer Hélène Picard and how she became under the executioner’s thumb, this event provides framework in introducing the executioner Louis Guilbeau and his professional ups-and-downs that ultimately land him working in the prison system. The association that connects the murders, Louis Guilbeau, and Hélène Picard is all very vague during initial proceedings and Gérard de Battista’s freeholding over-the-shoulder camera work provides passim POV shots and agley angles to keep the wheels of motion mysteriously slipping in order to not fully grip the reality of the situation. Bonan borders the edge of German Expressionism toward the third act by disenchanting the way of guilty thinking aesthetics and to root the killer in insanity on various levels, ending with a chase sequence that is seemingly endless amongst a pile of building rubble and ruin.

A provocateur of storytelling and of the celluloid vision, director Jean-Denis Bonan finally has his film, “A Woman Kills,” released onto a limited-edition Blu-ray home video from Radiance Films twelve years as being unearthed. First released on DVD in 2016, distribution for the film was all but easy due to Bonan’s deemed unclassifiable feature by large scale and indie firms. Today, the original reversible 16mm elements have gone through a 2K restoration scan for the feature’s Blu-ray debut and the presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and black and white format. For being undiscovered for four decades, unfinished, and receiving literally no support from any state funds to complete, the image has remained nearly pristine with only a few dust specks and faint scratches being the worse of the wear. The Cinémathèque de Limousin and the restoration by producer Francis Lecomte doesn’t feel to have overcorrected the natural grain or go high on the contrast but rather retain much of the classic, original elements for an honest viewing aside from the liner notes mentioning a few special effects added to remove equipment from out of the picture. Father time has forgotten all about Bonan’s lost relic, staving off age degradation to those with more day-to-day exposure. The French language Dolby Digital mono track also retains a remarkable, near stainless net result. The absence of the camera whirring and lack of electrical interference points to a complete dub track of the actors’ voiceovers to which the dialogue is distinct with only a handful of crackling peppered in throughout. English subtitles are optional on the menu settings and offer an error free, well-paced synchronization. The bonus features include a video introduction to the feature by Virginie Sélavy, an audio commentary by Kat Ellinger and Virginie Sélavy, the trailer, and a 37-minute, newly updated 2015 documentary On the Margin: The Cursed Films of Jean-Denis Bonan featuring one-sided interview responses from Bonan, cinematographer Gérard de Battista, editor Mirelille Abramovici, composer Daniel Laloux, and actress Jackie Rynal. There is also Bonan’s short films – “la vie breve de Monsier Meucieu,” “Un crime d’amour,” “Tristesses des Anthropophages,” Mathieu-fou, “and “Une saison chez les hommes.” The limited to 2,000 copies release does not disappointment with tangible material within this clear snapper, untraditional Blu-ray case that doesn’t sport the Blu-ray logo at the top. Much like Bonan’s work, the Blu-ray, too, rebels against marketing norms with cover art that displays the film’s synopsis and documentary bons feature on the front cover. The reversible cover also has the original 2016 DVD art on the inside along with a limited-edition booklet featuring “A Woman Kills” essay by film author and scholar Catherine Wheatley and writer-broadcaster Richard Thomas regarding the film’s themes and Bonan’s short films. The 51-page booklet also includes newly translated interviews and offers film credits as well as black and white stills of “A Woman Kills” and other Bonan credits. The feature has a runtime of 69 minutes, the release is region free, and Unrated. Jean-Denis Bonan disrupts the narrative routine, but his film remains a timeless, psychosomatic portrayal with a contentious backdrop of French sociopolitical unrest that makes the context of “A Woman Kills” that much more engrossing.

“A Woman Kills” Now Available on Blu-ray! Click the Cover Art to Purcahse!

Nothing Says EVIL Like a Woman Scorned! “Revenge” reviewed! (Second Sight / BR Screener)

Richard, a wealthy businessman, and Jen, his young, candy arm mistress, helicopter in onto Richard’s desert retreat house. While his wife and children are at home, Richard plans to spend his time away relishing a pleasurable weekend that involves relaxing by the outdoor firepit, swimming in the infinity pool, being sultry with Jen, and do a bit of hunting along the mountains, canyons, and riverbeds. When Richard’s associates, Stan and Dimitri, arrive a day early, a party filled night rapidly ensues, but events turn sour when Jen is brutally attacked the next day and Richard plans to snuff out the scandal before it unravels to ruin him. Unwilling to cooperate with a coverup, Jen is nearly murdered by her three attackers only to arise like the rebirth of the Phoenix, igniting a vengeful fire inside her as she uses everything she has at her disposal to finish what they started.

In a day and age when the slightest bit of a woman’s attention can explode into a vile reaction of testosterone warped misguidance and it’s the woman who is shamed as the accosted criminal being barked at aggressively by the unequivocal fearful and condemning voices of the male species, it’s movies like Coralie Fargeat’s action-packed “Revenge” that symbolizes woman’s resiliencies against men’s efforts in a show of violent force that’s “First Blood” without John Rambo, but rather with a scorned princess for retributive capital justice. “Revenge” is the French filmmaker’s first full-length penned and directed feature film that’s one gritty and bloody grindhouse vindictive sonovabitch, a pure punch to the throat, and a direct message to misogyny everywhere. Filmed in the Morocco desert during Winter, the small cast is swallowed by the vastly arid landscape of transfixing cruelty, a synonymous parallel to the feat the heroine Jen is drawn to task. It’s also a feat that Fargeat managed to salvage to finally release a rape-revenge thriller backed by a conglomerate of production firms and financiers to stand with a film from a first time director whose treatment offers up maltreatment of women, such as the rape, along with the savagery, the concept of revenge, and ridiculous amounts of blood. M.E.S. Productions, Monkey Pack Films, Charades, Logical Pictures, Nextas Factory and Umedia are just to name a few of the production companies to be supporting capital.

With a role embodying the symbolic brutalization of physical and mental rape, a role of complete loneliness in a fatal skirmish against their attackers, and in a role forsaken in the face of death only to be reborn from the ashes of their former self, Matilda Lutz’s fully charged capacity to tackle such a demanding performance is beyond praiseworthy, scrapping the timid traits from Jen’s ravaged glossy persona and replacing with a rigid exterior ready and willing to combat to the death. The Italian born Lutz has to go through a metamorphosis and refashion Jen to be able to differentiate from her more bubbly first half self as the easy kill or the disposable male plaything. In a twisted turn of events, Jen’s mortal adversaries have every advantage to douse out Jen’s existence: gear, guns, vehicles, clothes, water, fuel, numbers, etc. Yet, despite all the advantages, the desert, much like Jen, is unforgiving as it is bare. Richard (Kevin Janssens), Stan (Vincent Colombe), and Guillaume Bouchede (Dimitri) exude the utmost confidence their grip around Jen’s throat. Janssens’ fortifies as the rigorous cutthroat, a misogynistic philanderer, determined to save his own skin no matter the cost while Colombe’s Stan is a retracting coward with regretful impulses. Colombe’s brings the comedy to a grimly tale and positions Stan to be the teetering villain tarnished by his guilt of nearly killing Jen, but never apologizes to being the catalytic rapist that initiates the whole debacle. Bouchede supplements with his divestment to charm as the overweight, do-nothing witness to save Jen from Stan’s seizing urges. As Dimitri, Bouchede stalls his typical niceties to be the silent violator who can open up the flood gates of aggression when transgression warrants it.

“Revenge” has an ultra-violent and super-synth finish chapping with multiple motifs of a rebirth theme and supplies a hefty bloodletting of incorporeal measures. Knocking it out of the park in her first feature film, Fargeat’s cauterizes the unnerving serious tone with alleviated black comedy of the bloodiest kind. The roundabout endgame chase comes to mind, involving a frazzled Jen and a wounded, but indomitable Richard in a merry-go-round of a shotgun standoff is some of the best editing work of fast and ferocious content I’ve seen in some time while still able to vitalize a transparent sense of what’s occurring. However, not all the slick editing is flawless. Some minor inconsistencies in the editing are noticeable and while these moments of lapse are not detrimental or pivotal to the story, they reflect Fargeat’s challenges of making a hyper-stylized action-thriller in her freshman full-length feature. In a sense, everything Fargeat’s deploys positions “Revenge” into a surreal tonality, glamorized for those thirsty for blood gushing in a canyon-vast desert bristled with rape and payback where a mere four players in this ebb and flow game of killer combat chess can effortlessly locate each other, but one can always find their prey by following their blood trail, another motif that continues to pop up that speaks metaphors of their life blood is the very object gives them away in the end.

Giving the limited edition treatment that it deserves, Second Sight Films’s Blu-ray release of “Revenge” is a mouthwatering narcotic of raging cathexis and while the Blu-ray BD-R can’t be technically critiqued, the LE release offers HD 1080p transfer of the original, 2.39:1 aspect ratio and sports an English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. While Fargeat might be inspired by Lynchian themes, the cinematography work by Robrecht Heyvaert also resembles “Pitch Black” director David Twohy’s films with making something small larger than life and a particular chase scene involving all four characters at the edge of a canyon stroke a familiar chord with Twohy’s “A Perfect Getaway.” There were Second Sight Films’ exclusive bonus features included on the disc, featuring new interviews with director Carolie Fargeat and star Matilda Lutz (entitled “Out for Blood”) an interview with Dimitri actor Guillaume Bouchede (entitled “The Coward”), a interview with Robrecht Heyvaert (entitled “Fairy Tale Violence”), a new interview with composer Robin Coudert and the synth sounds of “Revenge,” and a new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author and editor of Diabolique. The release is sheathed inside a rigid slipcase featuring new artwork by Adam Stothard as well as a poster and a new soft cover book with new writings by Mary Beth McAndrews and Elena Lazic Overall, “Revenge” received a monster packaged release ready for the taking on May 11th. “Revenge” destroys toxic masculinity and breathes a vindictive hope from the fiery embers of rebirth and destruction.